After viewing news photographs from China for years, one of my favorite visual themes is “large crowd formations.” Whether the subject is military parades or world-record attempts, mass exercises or enormous performances, the images are frequently remarkable. The masses of people can look beautiful or intimidating, projecting a sense of strength and abundance. Individuals can become pixels in a huge painting, or points on a grid, or echoes of each other in identical uniforms or costumes. I've gathered some of these images below, taken around China over the past several years. (Note: A few of these images can create a dizzying effect when viewed while scrolling, which is fun, but could be surprising.)
A group of 1,000 customers receive facial massages at a sports center in Jinan, Shandong Province, China, on May 4, 2015. The group of 1,000 women were given 30-minute facial treatments together, achieving a Guinness world record for the largest group of people having beauty treatment in the same location, according to local media.
Entertainers perform with their fou drums, ancient Chinese percussion instruments, during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, on August 8, 2008.
Christophe Simon / AFP / Getty Images
Tai Lihua (center), art director of China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe, leads deaf dancers to perform Guan Yin, or “Thousand-hand Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,” a Chinese goddess, in Suining, Sichuan Province, on June 30, 2009. Feeling music through speakers and guided by hand gestures, the troupe takes steps to champion the rights of disabled people around the world.
Pregnant women practice yoga as they attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest prenatal yoga class, in Changsha, Hunan Province, on June 8, 2014. A total of 505 pregnant women participated in a yoga class together for 37 minutes and 28 seconds on Sunday, exceeding the current Guinness World Record set in Shenzhen in 2013 with 423 women, local media reported.
Reuters / China Daily
Students take an examination on an open-air playground at a high school in Yichuan, Shaanxi Province, on April 11, 2015. More than 1,700 freshmen students took part in the exam, which was the first attempt by the school to take it in open air. The school said the reason was due to the insufficient indoor space and also that it could also be a test of the students' organizing capacity.
Paramilitary recruits form a heart pattern to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 14, 2010, the same day as Valentine's Day, during a photo opportunity at an army base in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on February 10, 2010.
Reuters / China Daily
Students stand in formation on a field as they form a smiley face in an attempt to break a world record, in celebration of the 110th anniversary of their university in Nanjing, on April 27, 2012. A total of 3,110 students from Nanjing Agricultural University broke the Guinness World Record for World Largest Smiley Face, overtaking the last world record of 2,961 volunteers in Canada on July 2011, local media reported.
Sean Yong / Reuters